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DHL Guide > Trading with Europe, the EU and EFTA

Trading with Europe, the EU and EFTA

Most countries in Europe are associated with the European Union (EU), either through direct membership or associated blocs and treaties such as the European Economic Area (EEA) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA).

The UK is an EU member, so trading with EU, EEA and EFTA countries is generally straightforward for British businesses as many trading practices, regulations and harmonised standards apply throughout. However, Europe also offers ample trade opportunities beyond the EU: for instance, two of the world’s most promising emerging markets – Russia and Turkey – are both considered European economies.

Europe is the second-smallest continent, covering less than 7 per cent of the earth’s surface area and home to 11 per cent of the world’s population. Economically, the region is home to more advanced markets than any other part of the world: 25 of the 34 Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) members are based in Europe and five of the G8 economies are European countries.

As a whole, Europe is Britain’s most important trade partner: more than 50 per cent of the UK’s exports go to and imports come from this part of the world. This is hardly surprising given that most European markets are within a two hour flight radius of the UK.

While most European countries are associated with the EU, Europe also offers trade opportunities beyond these trade blocs: two of the world’s most promising emerging markets – Russia and Turkey – are both considered European economies.

The outlook for Western Europe’s economies is solid: eight of the top 15 most competitive economies for 2014-2015 are Western European. However, while growth rates in Western Europe (as in most advanced markets) are projected to be comparatively low, the up-and-coming Central and Eastern Europe markets (dubbed ‘High Growth Europe’ by UKTI) can also offer a range of new trade opportunities for British businesses.

Sources: GOV.UK, Heritage Foundation, OECD, UKTI, World Bank, World Economic Forum

Trading with the EU

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DHL first entered Europe – specifically the UK – in 1974. By 1977, DHL had offices in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Norway. Today, DHL’s network spans across the entire continent, including Ukraine – the largest country by land area based entirely in Europe – to some of the world’s smallest countries such as Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, San Marino and the Holy See (Vatican).

In 2002, DHL Express became a core part of Germany’s Deutsche Post AG, the world’s largest courier company with headquarters in Bonn. DHL’s main European Express hub in Leipzig is a state-of-the-art venue with the capacity to handle 100,000 items each hour. 60 aircraft from around the world land at and depart from Leipzig each night, setting global standards in fuel consumption and noise reduction.

European Union (EU)

Founded in the 1950s as a post-World War II effort to closely align Europe’s key economies and their political interests, the EU now has 28 member states. The EU’s single (or internal) market allows for the free movement of goods, capital, services and people between these countries.

European Economic Area (EEA)

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway join the EU’s single market by being part of the European Economic Area (EEA). This guarantees equal rights and obligations for EEA citizens and economic operators throughout the EU and EEA.

European Free Trade Association (EFTA)

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway form a separate trade bloc with Switzerland: EFTA. Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work in the EU as other EEA nationals through separate bilateral agreements.

Sources: GOV.UK, Heritage Foundation, OECD, UKTI, World Bank, World Economic Forum

Trading with Europe

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